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MGR, Kamal Haasan to Mani Ratnam, Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan was a dream project for Tamil cinema fraternity

The work for the celluloid adaptation finally began in 2019 when Mani Ratnam decided to go ahead with the film

MGR, Kamal Haasan to Mani Ratnam, Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan was a dream project for Tamil cinema fraternity
Aishwarya, Vikram, Karthi and Trisha in Ponniyin Selvan 2
  • Team OTTplay

Last Updated: 01.07 PM, Apr 24, 2023


It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that eminent novelist Kalki Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan's celluloid adaptation was a dream project of many in the Tamil film industry. Right from Puratchi Thalaivar MGR, to Ulaganayagan Kamal Haasan to Mani Ratnam, everyone wanted a slice of the five-part novel.

MGR was one of the first actors to have evincedinterest in making the film adaptation of Ponniyin Selvan. Basking in the smashing success of Nadodi Mannan (1958), MGR took everyone by surprise when he announced his interest in bringing the novel onscreen. MGR bought the rights to the novel from Krishnamurthy's family and decided to not only act in the film, but also direct and produce it.

It is said that MGR wanted to play Vallavarayan Vanthiyathevan and had wished his counterparts Gemini Ganesan, Vyjayanthimala Bala, Savitri and Padmini to be part of the film. Ponniyin Selvan was supposed to be made on a grand scale, but it never saw the light of the day.

MGR had then approached Bharathiraja to make the film.The 16 Vayathinile director had revealed at an event that MGR wanted to cast Kamal Haasan as Vanthiyathevan and Sridevi as Kundavai. But the conversation didn't go further as MGR left for his treatment in the US.

Later, the film fell into the hands of Kamal Haasan. Speaking at the audio launch of Ponniyin Selvan Part 1, Kamal Haasan said that he bought the rights from MGR. "The moment I asked him, he gave it to me. But he had a piece of advice for me. He asked me to make the film quickly. I remember the time when I would wonder if we could ever make a film like Sholay. Today, Ponniyin Selvan is one such example."

Mani Ratnam had once revealed that he had worked on a draft of the film along with his Nayakan star Kamal Haasan in the '80s. The project was once again shelved as it didn't work out financially. "Mani Ratnam and I almost had a competition on who would make the film, and he won. But I am glad to be associated with the film with my voiceover."

Ponniyin Selvan finally materialised in 2019, when Mani Ratnam decided to make the film with the current star cast - Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vikram, Trisha, Jayam Ravi and Kundavai. Kamal Haasan added, "Ponniyin Selvan 1 is not an easy film to make. People fear making this film. But courage is not showing fear. I am sure Mani Ratnam had the fear but it was his perseverance that made the film happen. It takes a lot of guts to make a film like Ponniyin Selvan